Nokia launches Ovi store and updates for N900

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With all the recent buzz surrounding Android and the Google Nexus One, it's easy to forget about another significant handset and platform now available on the market. I'm referring to the Nokia N900, the company's flagship smartphone running the Maemo 5 OS, on sale since late November. With Nokia rumored to expand Maemo as a mobile platform in the coming years, the company is now focused on putting in place the necessary systems and services for its users that competitors already provide.

Key among this is making the Ovi Store available for Maemo, with easy access to a wide range of software becoming an important factor as shown by the success of Apple's App Store. Over the past couple of days, Nokia has moved quickly to make this happen by releasing the N900's first minor software update that added support for the Ovi Store before launching the service itself a day later, albeit in beta.

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Early impressions by the team over at jkOnTheRun seem quite positive with the store being easy to use, well organized, and fast to navigate. As expected, the number of available apps is currently quite small, especially in comparison to the iPhone and Android handsets, but the selection is decent with a wide range of titles and themes. Hopefully Nokia will be working to get more developers on board in the coming months.

Since the Ovi launch, Nokia has also pushed out a second, more significant software update for the N900 with a large range of fixes and improvements including support for the Swiss keymat layout and updates for Microsoft Mail for Exchange and Ovi Maps. A lot of the improvements are based on feedback from users, and the Maemo team are actively seeking for continued feedback to further improve and refine the experience.

Have any N900 owners (our very own Chris among them) updated their devices yet and tried out the Ovi Store beta? What are your thoughts? For those of us who don't own N900s, a short video below from The Nokia Blog, gives us a glimpse of what Nokia has in store for Maemo.

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Jeremy To

Jeremy is a former editor at Pocketables.